Whether the Philadelphia Flyers keep going or not after Game 6 on Tuesday, it looks like they’ll be doing so without defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The hard-hitting defenseman underwent surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle on Tuesday and will miss 8-10 weeks.
That timetable essentially ends the 29-year-old’s season barring a remarkable recovery late in what would need to be a deep playoff run for the Flyers.
The big Swede was injured thanks to this awkward fall in Game 4 against the New York Rangers:
Philly originally replaced Grossmann with an even larger defenseman in Hal Gill, but now it looks like Erik Gustafsson will play in his first 2014 postseason game tonight in Gill’s place.
Hal Gill’s Game 5 cameo won’t extend to Game 6, as the Flyers have announced Erik Gustafsson will draw into the lineup tonight to take on the Rangers at Wells Fargo.
Gustafsson, who appeared in 31 regular season contests, hasn’t played at all this postseason (his last game was on Apr. 13), but is being called upon after Gill looked rusty in Sunday’s 4-2 loss. The 39-year-old was minus-2 in just over 12 minutes of ice time and looked a step slow, something Flyers head coach Craig Berube alluded to in explaining why Gustafsson was drawing in.
“I like his speed,” Berube said, per Philly.com. “He’s a quick player getting up ice. Just looking at that aspect of it.”
The Flyers have been forced to dig into their defensive depth with Nicklas Grossmann sidelined since Game 4 of the series. The hope is that Gustafsson can replicate the success he had during the 2012 playoffs, especially in an series-clinching win over Pittsburgh, when he scored a goal and finished plus-3 in over 22 minutes of ice time.
NBC will kick off a doubleheader of playoff hockey this afternoon with the Flyers vs. the Rangers.
Philadelphia finally ended its nine-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden in Game 2, but the Flyers conceded home ice advantage with a 4-1 loss in the following contest. Flyers goaltender Ray Emery was pulled from that game, which led to Steve Mason, who missed the start of the series with an upper-body injury, taking over.
Mason has been very effective against the Rangers in 2013-14, but they feel capable of making life harder for him. It would certainly help if Rangers forward Rick Nash broke out of his goal scoring slump.
While they have Mason back, the Flyers lost defenseman Nicklas Grossmann in Game 4. Hal Gill is expected to fill the void.
The contest will start at 12:00 p.m. ET and can be streamed online:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE